Tombstones, Vargariis: When Heathens Strive (Plus Full Album Stream)

Posted in audiObelisk, Reviews on November 24th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

tombstones vargariis

[Please note: Click play above to stream Vargariis in full. It’s out Dec. 4 on Soulseller Records. Thanks to Tombstones and Soulseller for letting me host the stream.]

It may or may not be right to call such barbarity progressive, but there is definitely a sense of growth in Vargariis, the new full-length from Norwegian trio Tombstones. Released by Soulseller Records, it’s their fourth long-player — something I also said about late-2013’s Red Skies and Dead Eyes (review here) — and finds the lineup of guitarist/vocalist Bjørn-Viggo Godtland, bassist/vocalist Ole Christian Helstad and drummer Markus Støle in an entirely more brutal, vicious era. Granted, the rather sizable wall of fuzz in Godtland and Helstad‘s tones remains, but they’ve shifted the context in which that wall is constructed, and Vargariis‘ six-track/56-minute run is made simultaneously broader and more oppressive by flourishes of sludge and black metal extremism, as on “The Dark High,” which starts side B, or “Oceans of Consciousness” right before it.

On one side or the other, each track hovers around the nine-minute mark in runtime, but what Tombstones do with that time is varied in aesthetic despite being universally dark appropriate to the tones of the album’s cover art. Like the release before it, Vargariis was recorded live, tracked by Joona Hassinen at at Studio Underjord in Norrköping, Sweden (Audun Strype mastered), but the two are very different in terms of concept and execution, Tombstones having grown thanks to some considerable roadtime the last couple years into a more patient, sonically ambitious and lethally grooving outfit, willing and capable to bend the genre of doom to suit their purposes rather than the other way around.

They start with a slow-motion pummel in “Barren Fields,” which seems to nod at Conan in its tablesetting opening riff before shifting into more hypnotic fare. For a release so aggressive on the whole, it doesn’t seem appropriate to think of Vargariis‘ leadoff track as easing the listener into the rest of what’s to come, but a big function of “Barren Fields” seems to be in establishing a baseline — also a bassline; that roll is thick — on which the rest of the songs continue to build. Godtland and Helstad trade vocals effectively as Støle, who makes his first studio appearance with the band here, bashes away beneath the morass, a midsection break providing a breather before a quickened ending movement grows more and more headbang-worthy as it thrusts toward an inevitable conclusion. Bass and drums start the semi-title-track, “And When the Heathen Strive, Vargariis Rise,” and the snare continues to be a punctuating factor through an extended intro and into a punishing slowdown of corresponding screams and growls that sets up a stretch of chugging, abrasive sludge topped with screams, moving into roaring shouts, Tombstones clearly having as much fun toying with the instrumental back and forth as that in the vocals.


There’s not much by way of hope to be found in any of it, but the guitar takes just a touch of brightness to its tone in the final third before a sudden drop-off in the drums brings about a quick fade and the blasting, charred-black opening of “Oceans of Consciousness” to stamp it out. They don’t keep up the onslaught for the entire 10:14 (the longest runtime), but play again with tradeoffs and heathen and sludge nod before all the bombast and gutturalism crashes to a halt at about 5:20 in and they begin the linear build that will consume the rest of the track with minimalist rumble and percussive gruel. Even in the quietest reaches, “Oceans of Consciousness” is filthy, and the lead that marks the beginning of the last minute is likewise, but by the time they get there, Tombstones‘ plunder is long-since established and the only thing to do is sit back and be impressed at how they manage to make mud so dense flow so well.

Vargariis is a definitive step forward from Red Skies and Dead Eyes because where that album played one side off another somewhere between stoner and doom impulses — and did it well, I’ll add — Vargariis flagrantly refuses to be bound by those or other constrictions, and where the predecessor worked its two sides with a duality in accord with its title, Vargariis is multi-faceted throughout and cohesive in spite of which element might be forward at any given moment. Even for appearing on a band’s fourth record, that cohesion is an impressive feat in “Oceans of Consciousness,” and the second half of Vargariis continues to build outward from there, “The Dark High” conjuring darkened swirl early on, breaking in the middle and finishing with more uptempo push à la “When the Heathen Strive, Vargariis Rise” as Støle distinguishes himself on drums and a long-sustained scream reminds of how effective harsh vocals can be when put to the right use. In addition to supplying a surprising dual-vocal hook, “Underneath the Earth” also brings about the most crushing tones on offer early on before shifting after six minutes — via standalone drums — into a fuzzier build that closes out.

That fuzzier vibe holds firm as the drums lead the way into “Pyre of the Cloth,” which is something of a further departure from the material before it in terms of its overall affect, though the oppressive heft is certainly a factor, particularly in the faster parts of the first half. There’s something psychedelic lurking beneath the surface ooze of “Pyre of the Cloth,” however, that isn’t in songs like “The Dark High,” and the closer locks in a central groove even as it rolls its way past excruciatingly slow sludge and higher-speed chugging Sleepism, ultimately finishing on the latter, and that winds up being the uniting factor holding it together. Like the bulk of the album before it, “Pyre of the Cloth” works structurally to hold together material that’s deceptively broad beyond its superficial drive toward the extreme, and most importantly, it shows Tombstones four albums in as a band whose palette is continuing to expand and who are clearly making the most of the experience they’re gaining along their way.

Tombstones on Thee Facebooks

Tombstones on Bandcamp

Soulseller Records

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Tombstones Announce Vargariis for Dec. 4 Release

Posted in Whathaveyou on October 9th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

tombstones (Photo by Stig Lovas)

Norwegian trio Tombstones make their way, plundering, toward veteran status. Their new one, Vargariis, is listed as their fourth full-length. I had thought their last outing, 2013’s Red Skies and Dead Eyes (review here), was their fourth, but I’m probably off. So it goes. In any case, Vargariis is due out Dec. 4 through Soulseller Records, and finds Tombstones a band who has played numerous festivals throughout Europe — the usual suspects: Roadburn (where they played “Barren Fields” with the visuals in the video below behind them; review here), DesertfestFreak Valley, and then some — as well as toured earlier this year alongside North Dakotan riffers Egypt.

As a result, I have pretty high expectations for what Vargariis might bring to their sound, and the Conan-style lumber of newly-unveiled album opener “Barren Fields” does little to dissuade my hopes. Soulseller sent over the details for the record and you can find them as they appeared from the PR wire under the artwork below, followed of course by the track.

Dig it:

tombstones vargariis1

TOMBSTONES – “Vargariis”

Norwegian doomheads TOMBSTONES return with their 4th full-length album – their heaviest work so far without any doubt!

“Vargariis”, the successor of “Red Skies and Dead Eyes” (2013) will be released on December 4th 2015 via Soulseller Records on CD, vinyl and digitally.

TOMBSTONES has taken up on their Norse heritage, evolving from their previous stoner-influenced sound, now descending into the dark side of the gloom. “Vargariis” finds the band leaning towards the bleak and desperate, assaulting the listener with their blackened, thunderous wall of fuzz and despair. Two years of intensive touring alongside bands such as Eyehategod, Church of Misery, Egypt and Witch Mountain have kept the band active, and the result unveils in the energy and live presence felt on “Vargariis”. The last couple of years Tombstones has appeared on the legendary Roadburn Festival, Desertfest, Freak Valley Festival, Muskelrock, Doom Over Leipzig, and tours in support of “Vargariis” in 2016 are in the works.

1. Barren Fields
2. And When The Heathen Strive, Vargariis Rise
3. Oceans Of Consciousness
4. The Dark High
5. Underneath The Earth
6. Pyre Of The Cloth

Tombstones, “Barren Fields”

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Quarterly Review: Horisont, Blackwolfgoat & Larman Clamor, Matushka, Tuna de Tierra, MAKE, SardoniS, Lewis and the Strange Magics, Moewn, El Hijo de la Aurora, Hawk vs. Dove

Posted in Reviews on September 30th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster


Cruising right along with the Fall 2015 Quarterly Review. I hope you’ve been digging it so far. There’s still much more to come, and I’ve spaced things out so that it’s not like all the really killer stuff was in the first day. That’s not so much to draw people in with bigger names as to get a good mix of styles to keep me from going insane. 10 records is a lot to go through if you’re hearing the same thing all the time. Today, as with each day this week, I’m glad to be able to change things up a bit as we make our way through. Let’s get to it.

Fall 2015 Quarterly Review #21-30:

Horisont, Odyssey

horisont odyssey

Aside from earning immediate points by sticking the 10-minute title-track at the front of their 62-minute fourth album, Swedish mustache rockers Horisont add intrigue to Odyssey (out on Rise Above) via the acquisition of journeyman guitarist Tom Sutton (The Order of Israfel, ex-Church of Misery). Their mission? To rock ‘70s arena melodies and grandiose vibes while keeping the affair tight enough so they don’t come across as completely ridiculous in the process. They’ve had three records to get it together before this one, so that they’d succeed isn’t necessarily much of a surprise, but the album satisfies nonetheless, cuts like “Blind Leder Blind” departing the sci-fi thematics of the opener for circa-1975 vintage loyalism of a different stripe, while “Back on the Streets” is pure early Scorpions strut, the band having found their own niche within crisp execution of classic-sounding grooves that seem to have a vinyl hiss no matter their source.

Horisont on Thee Facebooks

Rise Above Records

Blackwolfgoat & Larman Clamor, Straphanger / Drone Monger Split

blackwolfgoat larman clamor split

I’ll make no bones whatsoever about being partial to the work of both Blackwolfgoat – the solo experimental vehicle of Boston-based guitarist Darryl Shepard – and Larman Clamor – the solo-project of Hamburg-based graphic artist Alexander von Wieding – so to find them teamed up for a split 7” on H42 Records is something of a special thrill. Shepard’s inclusion, “Straphanger,” continues to push the thread between building layers of guitar on top of each other and songwriting that the last Blackwolfgoat full-length, Drone Maintenance (review here), found him exploring, while Larman Clamor’s “Drone Monger” is an alternate version from what appeared on last year’s Beetle Crown and Steel Wand (review here) and “Fo’ What You Did” digs deep into the swampy psych-blues that von Wieding has done so well developing for the last half-decade or so in the project’s tenure. My only complaint? No collaboration between the two sides. Would love to hear what Shepard and von Wieding could do in a cross-Atlantic two-piece.

Blackwolfgoat on Thee Facebooks

Larman Clamor on Thee Facebooks

H42 Records

Matushka, II

matushka ii

II is the aptly-titled second full-length from Russian heavy psych instrumentalists Matushka, who jam kosmiche across its four component tracks and round out by diving headfirst into the acid with “Drezina,” a 20-minute pulsation from some distant dimension that gives sounds like Earthless if they made it up on the spot, peppering shred-ola leads with no shortage of effects swirl. In comparison, “As Bartenders and Bouncers Dance” feels positively plotted, but it, “The Acid Curl’s Dance” before and the especially dreamy “Meditation,” which follows, all have their spontaneous-sounding elements. For guitarist Timophey Goryashin, bassist Maxim Zhuravlev (who seems to since be out of the band) and drummer Konstantin Kotov to even sustain this kind of lysergic flow, they need to have a pretty solid chemistry underlying the material, and they do. I don’t know whether Matushka’s II will change the scope of heavy psychedelia, but they put their stamp on the established parameters here and bring an edge of individuality in moments of arrangement flourish — acoustics, synth, whatever it might be — where a lot of times that kind of thing is simply lost in favor of raw jamming.

Matushka on Thee Facebooks

Matushka on Bandcamp

Tuna de Tierra, EPisode I: Pilot

tuna de tierra episode i pilot

If a pilot is used in television to test whether or not a show works, then Tuna de Tierra’s EPisode I: Pilot, would seem to indicate similar ends. A three-song first outing from the Napoli outfit, it coats itself well in languid heavy psychedelic vibing across “Red Sun” (the opener and longest track at 8:25; immediate points), “Ash” (7:28) and the particularly dreamy “El Paso de la Tortuga,” which closes out at 4:08 and leaves the listener wanting to hear more of what Alessio de Cicco (guitar/vocals) and Luciano Mirra (bass) might be able to concoct from their desert-style influences. There’s patience to be learned in some of their progressions, and presumably at some point they’ll need to pick up a drummer to replace Jonathan Maurano, who plays here and seems to since be out of the band, but especially as their initial point of contact with planet earth, EPisode I: Pilot proves immersive and a pleasure to get lost within, and that’s enough for the moment.

Tuna de Tierra on Thee Facebooks

Tuna de Tierra on Bandcamp

MAKE, The Golden Veil

make the golden veil

Much of what one might read concerning North Carolinian trio MAKE and their second album, The Golden Veil, seems to go out of its way to point out the individual take they’re bringing to the established parameters of post-metal. I don’t want to speak for anyone else, but part of that has to be sheer critical fatigue at the thought of another act coming along having anything in common with Isis while at the same time, not wanting to rag on MAKE as though their work were without value of its own, which at this point an Isis comparison dogwhistles. MAKE’s The Golden Veil successfully plays out an atmospherically intricate, engaging linear progression across its seven tracks, from the cut-short intro “I was Sitting Quietly, Peeling back My Skin” through the atmospheric sludge tumult of “The Absurdist” and into the patient post-rock melo-drone of “In the Final Moments, Uncoiling.” Yes, parts of it are familiar. Parts of a lot of things are familiar. Some of it sounds like Isis. That’s okay.

MAKE on Thee Facebooks

MAKE on Bandcamp

SardoniS, III

sardonis iii

To an extent, the reputation of Belgium instru-crushers SardoniS precedes them, and as such I can’t help but listen to “The Coming of Khan,” which launches their third album, III (out via Consouling Sounds), and not be waiting for the explosion into tectonic riffing and massive-sounding gallop. Still the duo of drummer Jelle Stevens and guitarist Roel Paulussen, SardoniS offer up five tracks of sans-vocals, Surrounded by Thieves-style thrust, a cut like “Roaming the Valley” summarizing some of the best elements of what they’ve done across the span of splits with Eternal Elysium and Drums are for Parades, as well as their two prior full-lengths, 2012’s II and 2010’s SardoniS (review here), in its heft and its rush. A somewhat unanticipated turn arrives with 11:46 closer “Forward to the Abyss,” which though it still hits its standard marks, also boasts both lengthy atmospheric sections at the front and back and blastbeaten extremity between. Just when you think you know what to expect.

SardoniS on Thee Facebooks

Consouling Sounds

Lewis and the Strange Magics, Velvet Skin

lewis and the strange magics velvet skin

With their debut long-player, Barcelona trio Lewis and the Strange Magics answer the promise of their 2014 Demo (review here) in setting a late-‘60s vibe to modern cultish interpretation, post-Uncle Acid and post-Ghost (particularly so on “How to be You”) but no more indebted to one or the other than to themselves, which is as it should be. Issued via Soulseller Records, Velvet Skin isn’t afraid to dive into kitsch, and that winds up being a big part of the charm of songs like “Female Vampire” and “Golden Threads,” but it’s ultimately the chemistry of the organ-inclusive trio that makes the material hold up, as well as the swaggering rhythms of “Cloudy Grey Cube” and “Nina (Velvet Skin),” which is deceptively modern in its production despite such a vintage methodology. The guitar and keys on that semi-title-track seem to speak to a classic progressive edge burgeoning within Lewis and the Strange Magics’ approach, and I very much hope that’s a path they continue to walk.

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records

Moewn, Acqua Alta

moewn acqua alta

Basking in a style they call “oceanic rock,” newcomer German trio Moewn unveil their first full-length, Acqua Alta, via Pink Tank Records in swells of post-metallic undulations that wear their neo-progressive influences on their sleeve. Instrumental for the duration, the three-piece tracked the album in 2014 about a year after first getting together, but the six songs have a cohesive, thought-out feel to their peaks and valleys – “Packeis” perhaps most of all – that speaks to their purposeful overall progression. Atmospherically, it feels like Moewn are still searching for what they want to do with this sound, but they have an awful lot figured out up to this point, whether it’s the nodding wash of airy guitar and fluid heft of groove that seems to push “Dunkelmeer” along or second cut “Katamaran,” which if it weren’t for the liquefied themes of the art and their self-applied genre tag, I’d almost say sounded in its more spacious stretches like desert rock à la Yawning Man.

Moewn on Thee Facebooks

Pink Tank Records

El Hijo de la Aurora, The Enigma of Evil

el hijo de la aurora the enigma of evil

Since their first album, 2008’s Lemuria (review here), it has been increasingly difficult to pin Peruvian outfit El Hijo de la Aurora to one style or another. Drawing from doom, heavy rock, drone and psychedelic elements, they seem to push outward cosmically into something that’s all and none of them at the same time on their third album, The Enigma of Evil (released by Minotauro Records), the core member Joaquín Cuadra enlisting the help of a host of others in executing the seven deeply varied tracks, including Indrayudh Shome of continually underrated experimentalists Queen Elephantine on the acoustic-led “The Awakening of Kosmos” and the penultimate chug-droner “The Advent of Ahriman.” Half a decade after the release of their second album, Wicca (review here), in 2010, El Hijo de la Aurora’s work continues to feel expansive and ripe for misinterpretation, finding weight in atmosphere as much as tone and breadth enough to surprise with how claustrophobic it can at times seem.

El Hijo de la Aurora’s website

Minotauro Records

Hawk vs. Dove, Divided States

hawk vs dove divided states

Dallas outfit Hawk vs. Dove recorded Divided States in the same studio as their self-titled 2013 debut (review here) and the two albums both have black and white line-drawn artwork from Larry Carey, so it seems only fitting to think of the new release as a follow-up to the first. It is fittingly expansive, culling together elements of ‘90s noise, post-grunge indie (ever wondered what Weezer would sound like heavy? Check “X”), black metal (“Burning and Crashing”), desert rock (“PGP”) and who the hell knows what else into a mesh of styles that not only holds up but feels progressed from the first time out and caps with an 11-minute title-track that does even more to draw the various styles together into a cohesive, singular whole. All told, Divided States is 38 minutes of blinding turns expertly handled and impressive scope trod over as though it ain’t no thing, just another day at the office. It’s the kind of record that’s so good at what it does that other bands should hear it and be annoyed.

Hawk vs. Dove on Thee Facebooks

Hawk vs. Dove on Bandcamp

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Demon Eye Post New Video for “End of Days”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on September 18th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

demon eye

North Carolina semi-cultish heavy rockers Demon Eye released their second album, Tempora Infernalia (review here), in May through Soulseller Records. It was and is the follow-up to last year’s Leave the Light (review here) in literal and figurative terms, expanding on many similar ideas while also pushing further along the band’s progressive path. And Demon Eye have proved quickly that they have something to offer in their near-garage take on post-Pentagram doom, somewhere between the classic and the modern and nowhere near as unclear about what they want to do as I seem to be about describing it, but more than their stylistic nuance, what really excites about their work thus far is the core of songwriting underneath.

There’s something to be said about the strength of underlying structure in songcraft and the various shapes of material one might build on such a solid foundation, and to me, Demon Eye just prove that. They’re not blindsiding anybody with technicality, and nor are they all-style-over-substance when it comes to their aesthetic choices, but they write memorable songs, and by focusing on that first, allow the rest to fill in naturally. Case in point is “End of Days” from Tempora Infernalia. Guitarist/vocalist Erik Sugg, drummer/vocalist Bill Eagen, bassist Paul Walz and lead guitarist Larry Burlison aren’t exactly subtle in terms of perspective, but the impact of the song is even more about its hook and how goddamn catchy it is. Thus far, I’ve heard nothing from Demon Eye to make me think they won’t continue to grow within this methodology.

And as I say, they have aesthetics to offer as well, as the new video for “End of Days” demonstrates. Demon Eye already shared the stage this week with Mos Generator and The Atomic Bitchwax, and they have shows coming up in the next few weeks with Lo-Pan and Acid King as well. Dates follow the clip.


Demon Eye, “End of Days” official video

From “Tempora Infernalia,” courtesy of Soulseller Records. Video was compiled, created and edited by Carmen Parks and the Mystery Machine.

NEW OFFICIAL VIDEO for END OF DAYS! A huge thanks to The Mystery Machine. See Demon Eye at the upcoming shows:

9/24 – Spacebar in Columbus, OH w/ BEGGARS & LO-PAN
9/25 – Live Wire in Chicago, IL w/ LADIES OF LEISURE & CROSS HAMMER
9/26 – Detroit, Michigan w/ THE BEGGARS (Detroit)
10/24 – Kings Barcade in Raleigh, NC w/ ACID KING

Demon Eye on Thee Facebooks

Soulseller Records

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Mist UK Tour Starts Next Week

Posted in Whathaveyou on September 16th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

mist (Photo by Lara Žitko)

Slovenian doomers Mist are heading out on their first tour of the UK starting Sept. 21. The five-piece band will be heralding the May 2015 release of their Inan’ EP on Soulseller Records, sneaking in a Belgian gig beforehand, and prefacing an appearance in the Netherlands next month at the Into the Void fest, where they’ll play with UfomammutMy Sleeping Karma and of course an enviable ton of others. After the band’s well-received Demo 2013 (review here), they continued to earn praise with Inan’ for their take on classic doom, atmospheric but not overblown and true to the genre’s riffy roots.

Tour dates and other info follow, as seen on the PR wire:

mist tour poster

Mist announced their first ever UK tour!

Ljubljana, Slovenia-based doom metal band Mist announced their first ever UK tour and just before that they will also make a short stop in Belgium. The band will be promoting their new EP entitled »Inan’« released in May 2015 via Soulseller Records.

Tour dates:
21.09.2015 Liège (BE), Péniche La Légia w/ Fading Bliss, Hyde
22.09.2015 Sheffield (UK), The Rocking Chair w/ Kurokuma, Northern Oak, The Miser On The Faerie Gump
23.09.2015 Edinburgh (UK), Bannermans Bar
24.09.2015 Aberdeen (UK), Downstairs w/ Civilised Worm, Oliver Richard
25.09.2015 Glasgow (UK), Nice N Sleazy w/ Aye Aye, Mauk
26.09.2015 London (UK), The Dev w/ Desolate Pathway, Sunstone
30.09.2015 Zagreb (CRO), Vintage Industrial Bar w/ Jex Thoth, Black Monastery
24.10.2015 Leeuwarden (NL) – Into The Void Festival w/ Sólstafir, Mono, Ufomammut, My Sleeping Karma, Christian Mistress, Wucan,…

Mist is a female-fronted doom metal band from Slovenia, formed in July 2012. They build their music on the legacy of legendary bands like Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Candlemass, Coven, Saint Vitus and others.

Even though they are a young band they have already had a chance to support some great acts, such as Uncle Acid & The Deadbeats, Helstar, Vicious Rumors, Manilla Road, Saint Vitus, Orange Goblin, Avatarium, Mount Salem, Seremonia, Officium Triste, Ophis and Cauchemar, and have already toured Austria, Italy, Croatia, Germany, Belgium, and the Netherlands. They also played the Malta Doom Metal Festival and the renowned Hammer Of Doom Festival last year, and this year they appeared on MetalDays Festival in Tolmin (Slovenia).

Mist released their first demo recording »Demo 2013« in November 2013 which has also been re-issued on CD and limited 7″ vinyl by Soulseller Records. They recently released a new EP entitled »Inan’«, including 3 brand new songs and re-recorded version of track Phobia from the previous release. The new EP was recorded in the fall of 2014, produced, mixed and mastered by Benjamin Kic from BK Mastering. The brilliant cover art was created by drummer Mihaela Žitko.

Nina Spruk – lead vocals
Ema Babošek – rhythm guitar & backing vocals
Blaž Tanšek – lead guitar
Neža Pe?an – bass
Mihaela Žitko – drums

Mist, “Inan’:

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Demon Eye, Tempora Infernalia: In the Fire and of It

Posted in Reviews on August 11th, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

demon eye tempora infernalia

From Raleigh, North Carolina, the dual-guitar foursome Demon Eye rode out of the gate strong on the songwriting of their first full-length, 2014’s Leave the Light (review here), a straightforward but still atmospherically-minded collection of cultish-themes and prime riffs that was likewise unpretentious and preaching to the genre-converted. The inevitable sophomore outing, also released on Soulseller Records, is Tempora Infernalia, which follows suit from its predecessor in its thematic — though one could argue the cult vibes are less direct here — and overall sonic foundation. There are shades of Pentagram-style doom with Uncle Acid‘s newer-modus swing, though it irons out to an able execution of doom rock either way, and Tempora Infernalia is at very least that.

Its 40 minutes/10 tracks are efficiently constructed and come out clean even as they seem to revel in dirt, guitarists Erik Sugg (also vocals) and Larry Burlison (lead), bassist/vocalist Paul Walz and drummer/vocalist Bill Eagen resounding in their cohesion as the record plays out, Sugg and Burlison leading the charge from opener “End of Days” onward, a ’70s boogie meeting early in uptempo pulse with doomly roll, the vocals furthering the retro vibe that’s balanced throughout with modernity of production. And that’s pretty much the story. Demon Eye are obviously capable songwriters, as they proved their first time out, and they have a clear idea of what they want to do with their sound, which they demonstrate plainly on these tracks in a manner that leaves very little room for argument.

And accordingly, I won’t argue against it. What I will say is that Tempora Infernalia feels like it was released a year after their debut, which of course it is. The actual timeline on when songs were written for both doesn’t really matter, what I’m talking about is more the level of progression between the two albums. Demon Eye started out knowing what they wanted to do, and with Tempora Infernalia, they’re doing it a second time. Cuts like “Listen to the Darkness” and side B’s shuffling “In the World, Not of It” are more than capable executions — the latter especially is a highlight that shifts the tempo slightly from the classic metallurgy of “Poison Garden” before it — but aren’t much more assured of their position than were “Edge of a Knife” or “Fires of Abalam” on the debut.

demon eye

The kicker there is the debut was already plenty assured, but for a band who hit the ground running in paying off the potential shown on their initial 2013 EP (all six songs from which were reused on the first album), one almost went into Tempora Infernalia expecting leaps and bounds from where they were a year ago, whereas the band’s project seems to be more centered around building a catalog of steady growth from one release to the next. Not an issue with the songs here — they even change things up in their approach with the “Solitude”-style penultimate placement of “Please, Father” before closer “Sons of Man” delivers the album’s nastiest hook — so much as with the context through which one enters into hearing them, but as someone who was impressed by the first record, the second stands behind it and affirms its motion rather than blowing it out of the water with the progression from one to the next.

That’s not to say Demon Eye haven’t grown at all in the last year. Leave the Light garnered fervent praise from underground circles, and the band accordingly took on the ’70s ethic of a quick follow-up. Fair enough. The vaguer threat of “I’ll be Creeping” and the speedy swing of “Black Winds” show a broader range for Tempora Infernalia and a willingness to try different ideas across a full-length span, while “See the Signs” reaffirms the craftsmanship that’s been the root of their appeal all along. Across the board, performances are air-tight, Sugg emerging as a frontman presence while not overplaying his hand in that regard, and the production and mixing of Alex Maiolo at Seriously Adequate Studio in NC are crisp in a way that adds to the momentum built as the record plays out.

A less-directly Satanic theme feels like a purposeful drive away from what they were doing on Leave the Light, and on repeat listens its blend of elder metal and newer heavy comes across as even more engaging, so while Demon Eye haven’t reinvented their or anyone else’s wheel with Tempora Infernalia, neither did they need to. Instead, they’ve set themselves on a steady path that mirrors the linear feel of their songwriting to produce a catalog of growth over a longer-term and more records. Whatever their method, all Tempora Infernalia really makes one do after listening to it is hope they keep working, however quickly they might or might not do so from here.

Demon Eye, “I’ll be Creeping”

Demon Eye on Thee Facebooks

Demon Eye on Bandcamp

Soulseller Records

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Lewis and the Strange Magics Post New Video for “Female Vampire”

Posted in Bootleg Theater on July 31st, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

lewis and the strange magics

Barcelona trio Lewis and the Strange Magics will release their debut album, Velvet Skin, Aug. 21 through Soulseller Records. The full-length follows last year’s impressive Demo (review here), which was among my favorite short releases of 2014 and tapped into that Beatlesian Sabbathery while managing to at the same time remain distinct from Uncle Acid, who one could reasonably argue are the foremost practitioners of the form. All three tracks from the demo will appear on the upcoming record, but the new song “Female Vampire” is the first I’m hearing from Velvet Skin and it proves even more individualized than the prior offering, the three-piece dug in deep to a circa-1967 vision of lysergics that, in the clip, meets with circa-1975 horror, the song taking its name from the title of a film released that year.

Performance clips manipulated with psychedelic visuals and copious NSFW ’70s boobage ensues, mining the ultimately familiar terrain of vintage exploitation and sexualized violence. The song itself has a complementary sense of camp to it, the vocals putting on a Dracula voice — think, “I vant to suck your blood,” — to deliver the title line in the chorus. It suits Lewis and the Strange Magics well to take the whole endeavor not quite so seriously as most of their cult-minded peers, who seem hell-bent on making listeners think they spend their nights at blood-soaked rituals and whatever else, and the reason it doesn’t fall into parody is because the songwriting stands up. As will happen, Baphomet shows up by the end, but they rightly conclude with a plug for the new album, which is one I’ll hope to get the chance to check out.

Video below, followed by PR wire info on Velvet Skin. Enjoy:

Lewis and the Strange Magics, “Female Vampire” official video (NSFW)

On August 21st the debut album “Velvet Skin” by Lewis & the strange magics will be released via Soulseller Records on Cd/Lp(lim.300) and Digital!

LEWIS AND THE STRANGE MAGICS was born in Barcelona, Spain, during the summer of 2014. Shortly after they released their debut demo which received great reception from audience and critics. Only a month later the band signed with Soulseller Records to release the debut LP, “Velvet Skin”, during 2015.

The album talks about human perversion, which is developed from dark ambients with 60s and 70s sounds. It was recorded and mixed by Filippo Medda at Algusano Records Studio (Mataró, Spain), mastered by Pete Weiss at Verdant Studio (Athens Vermont, USA), and the artwork was designed by Jo Riou (Paris, France). The band’s musical influences go from Black Sabbath to The Beatles, mixing heavy riffs with pop melodies, all wrapped up in a psychedelic and dark atmosphere, inspired by cult movies and occultism.

Track list:
1. Carbon Wine
2. How To Be You
3. Suzy’s Room
4. Golden Threads
5. Nina (Velvet Skin)
6. Female Vampire
7. Cloudy Grey Cube
8. Your Evil Trip

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Thee Facebooks

Lewis and the Strange Magics on Bandcamp

Soulseller Records

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Mist to Release New EP Inan’ on May 8

Posted in Whathaveyou on March 2nd, 2015 by H.P. Taskmaster

mist (photo by Lara Zitko)

Slovenian doom five-piece Mist will issue their new EP, the apostrophe-inclusive Inan’, on May 8 through Soulseller Records. Technically speaking, it’s their debut EP as well, though their Demo 2013 (review here) made enough of an impression that it was hard to think of it as the work of a band getting their bearings. Still, Inan’ will be four tracks and finds the Ljubljana outfit past the demo stage and onto more realized terrain. I wouldn’t be surprised if a first full-length followed soon behind.

Particularly notable is the fact that neither of the two tracks from Demo 2013 is reused for Inan’. I can’t help but wonder if there’s some aesthetic shift at play as well, and perhaps that’s what the incense and skull-holding in the photo above as well is hinting toward. We’ll find out in the Spring where Mist are headed sound-wise, and until then, here’s the info on Inan’ and the artwork for the EP, crafted by drummer Mihaela Žitko, courtesy of the PR wire:

mist inan

MIST: New EP details revealed

Slovenian Doom Metal band MIST will release a new EP (cd/lim.12″/digital) on May 8th though Soulseller Records. The 4-tracker entitled »Inan’« will include 3 new songs and one from the »Demo 2013«, recorded anew with the influence of the band’s current lead guitarist, Blaž Tanšek.

MIST formed in July 2012, originally as an all-female band, and build their music on the legacy of legendary bands like Black Sabbath, Pentagram, Candlemass, Coven, Saint Vitus and others.

»Inan’« was recorded in the fall of 2014, produced, mixed and mastered by Benjamin Kic from BK Mastering. The brilliant cover art was created by drummer Mihaela Žitko.

1. Inan’
2. Frozen Velvet
3. Phobia
4. Under The Night Sky

Nina Spruk – lead vocals
Ema Babošek – rhythm guitar & backing vocals
Blaž Tanšek – lead guitar
Neža Pe?an – bass
Mihaela Žitko – drums

Mist, Demo 2013

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